On May 4, 2017, the University of Bergen in Norway celebrated the launch of a Norwegian China Law Centre. The event was opened with a welcoming speech by the Rector of the University of Bergen, Dag Rune Olsen, followed by a presentation on the Centre’s future prospects by the Dean of the University’s Law Faculty, Asbjørn Strandbakken, and Vice Dean for Education, Bjørnar Borvik, at the Faculty of Law. After the opening speeches, future prospects as well as past cases on the development of Sino-Norwegian and Sino-Nordic cooperation were presented and discussed. Speakers and other guests included representatives from the Norwegian Parliament, as well as representatives from the University’s long-time Chinese partners such as Renmin and Fudan Universities, and representatives from universities in Nordic and European countries.
Among the University of Bergen and its Nordic neighbours, the University of Helsinki has been a strong supporter of university-level cooperation in the sphere of China law research. A year ago, in May 2016, representatives from the University of Bergen visited the Finnish China Law Center at the University of Helsinki with the prospects of establishing a similar Centre in Norway. Since the visit, the decision to launch China Law Centre at the University of Bergen has only been a matter of time. The political landscape for launching the Center now, after the normalization of diplomatic and political ties between China and Norway in December 2016 (having been frozen since 2010 after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize), is undoubtedly more favorable than a year ago, and assures a successful start for the newly launched platform for cooperation.
Dean of the University of Helsinki Law Faculty, and the Finnish China Law Center, Chair of the Board, Kimmo Nuotio, hosted the Norwegian delegation at the Finnish China Law Center with the Center’s Director Ulla Liukkunen last May. Taking part in the ceremony, Dean Nuotio congratulated the Norwegian China Law Centre for its launch and welcomed its cooperation with the Finnish China Law Center. The Chinese partners have been consistently interested in the Nordic region as a whole, and cooperation between Nordic countries in the China dimension would be beneficial to both Norway and Finland, and would be a signal to China of the brotherly relations that the Nordic countries share amongst each other.
Amongst the individuals driving forward Sino-Norwegian cooperation at the university level, Dean Asbjørn Strandbakken, Vice Dean Bjørnar Borvik and Law Professor at the University of Bergen, Ragna Aarli have long been involved in building the University’s cooperation with China. The launch of the China Law Centre at the University marks a great step forward in deepening such cooperation.
Author: Cristina D. Juola